Director Ben Lawrence / 2021 / Australia,UK

The campaign to free Julian Assange takes on intimate dimensions in this documentary portrait of an elderly man’s fight to save his son.

Arguably the world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a figure pretty much everybody has an opinion about; perhaps more importantly, he serves as the emblem of an international arm wrestle over freedom of journalism, government corruption and unpunished war crimes. For his family members who face the prospect of losing him forever to the abyss of the US justice system, however, this David-and-Goliath struggle is personal – and, with his health declining in a British maximum-security prison and American government prosecutors pulling out all the stops to extradite him, the clock is ticking.

Tracking the efforts of Assange’s ageing father, John Shipton, as he campaigns in the UK for his son’s release, this piercing documentary by director Ben Lawrence (Hearts and Bones, MIFF 2019; Ghosthunter, MIFF 2018) paints a portrait of Shipton as a tireless advocate and a prickly and fascinating figure in his own right. Ithaka provides a timely reminder of the issues at stake in this case, as well as an insight into the personal toll inflicted by the arduous, often lonely task of fighting for a cause bigger than oneself.

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